The Gallup poll, released Wednesday, found 73 percent of respondents said handgun possession should not be banned.
Gallup said 60 percent of U.S. residents asked had favored a handgun possession ban when it first asked the question in 1959, but since 1975, the majority have opposed a ban.
The poll also found a record low 43 percent said they favored stricter laws governing the sale of firearms, while 44 percent said the laws should remain unchanged and 11 percent said they should be less strict.
As recently as 2007, Gallup said, a majority of Americans favored stricter gun laws, which had been the majority view since Gallup first asked the question in 1990.
The new poll for the first time found more respondents expressed opposition to, not support for, a ban on semiautomatic assault rifles, with 53 percent saying they opposed a ban compared to 43 percent who said they favored a ban.
Congress passed an assault rifle ban in 1994 but it expired when it wasn't renewed in 2004.
The survey also found 60 percent of those surveyed said the government should enforce existing laws more strictly and not pass new laws, while 35 percent said the government should pass new laws and more strictly enforce existing laws.
The poll, based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 6-9 with a random sample of 1,005 adults, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
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